Safety leadership

More episodes in the Work Factors Podcast

What is safety leadership in the workplace? How are leadership and management different? Find out these answers and more as three experts discuss these topics and try to fill awkward silences in this episode of Work Factors.

Episode Transcript

Adam Pickens: All right, everybody. Welcome back to Work Factors. We are episode three. I am your—let’s go with eternal, that seems to be a good. A lot of behind the scenes. So if you don’t know the joke about eternal, go back and listen to episode one. I’m Adam Pickens, your host, and with me as always, Martha Parker.

Martha Parker: Yep. Co-host.

Adam Pickens: Co-host.

Martha Parker: Howdy, y’all.

Adam Pickens: Co-host who is uncomfortable with awkward silence.

Martha Parker: A hundred percent. Ask my husband.

Adam Pickens: We were just talking about that. That is what makes her such a great co-host, is the uncomfortableness with the awkward silence.

Martha Parker: That is correct.

Adam Pickens: Because some of us, not naming names or pointing fingers, are completely fine in living in a world of awkward silence.

Martha Parker: That’s right. And who is that giggling over there?

Adam Pickens: I don’t know. That could be our guest for the day, Mr. Dennis Johnson.

Dennis Johnson: How are you doing?

Adam Pickens: I’m doing well. How are you?

Dennis Johnson: Good.

Adam Pickens: I feel like I’ve seen you a lot today.

Dennis Johnson: You could.

Adam Pickens: I just finished a lecture in Dennis’s class. So you want to tell us about the class? So we’ll do a brief introduction. So just some backstory here for you all. So Dennis is our executive in residence in the environment occupational health department. Dennis likes notes and lists and things like that. So Martha and I, as the good hosts that we are, gave Dennis some of the few talking points. But now we’re just lobbing things at him willy-nilly.

Dennis Johnson: So we’re trying to create that awkward silence.

Adam Pickens: That’s right. We’re trying to see how uncomfortable Martha is with the awkward silence. So now that everybody knows that you are our executive in residence, you want to give us a little background? Because today you are here to talk to us about safety leadership.

Dennis Johnson: Okay.

Martha Parker: And how did you get here? That’s really what I want to know.

Adam Pickens: How did you get here?

Martha Parker: We know you drove over in your car, but I mean, besides that.

Adam Pickens: Well, that’s inaccurate; it’s a truck.

Martha Parker: It’s a truck.

Dennis Johnson: That’s true. Well, I’ve been in the safety field, safety industrial hygiene field, for the last 35 years.

Martha Parker: Wait. Are you 35 years old?

Dennis Johnson: Just barely. And I came to Texas A&M about four years ago. I first came to know about the Texas A&M School of Public Health when I worked for an energy company and came here to recruit safety and health students. So through that relationship and after I had left that energy company, I had the privilege to be able to come and work with yourself and Dr. Benden and others.

Adam Pickens: So your official title is executive in residence. I’ve mentioned that you’ve got a class.

Martha Parker: How does that feel, executive in residence? It sounds pretty awesome.

Adam Pickens: It sounds better than mine or your title, that’s for sure.

Dennis Johnson: It sort of goes with the pay.

Adam Pickens: All right then. I don’t know if that’s a dig at me or propping himself up there. I don’t know. So let me ask you this, what does an executive in residence do at Texas A&M?

Dennis Johnson: Well, I get the privilege of working with our students along with yourself. We get to help them understand what it’s like to work in the safety and health field, working in industry. And we also get the opportunity to help them understand what some of the new issues that are coming forward in that field. But we also get to help them introduce themselves to employers and hopefully be able to find internships or jobs afterward.

Adam Pickens: So I think you brought up an interesting point there. Back in your time in industry, you were a member, but now you are heading the academic side of our industrial advisory board.

Dennis Johnson: That’s true.

Martha Parker: And I think that’s one of the most valuable things you bring to the table, Dennis, is your relationship experience within the industry and how you know how small, medium, large companies work because of your experience. And so you’re able to reach out on Texas A&M’s behalf and say, wow, we have great students and here’s the program and you’re able to speak both languages. I think that’s really valuable.

Dennis Johnson: Well, it is. And we started this industry advisory board about 10 plus years ago. At the beginning, it was just a handful of people and we wanted to come together and start figuring out how we might be able to use the curriculum here at Texas A&M to be able to develop students. And it’s really done very well over the last 10 years.

Adam Pickens: Overall, I would agree. I think—without this becoming a commercial for the EOH department—I think we’ve done really well. And so I think one of the things that Martha brought up was you’ve worked in a number of different companies in the energy field. So we’ve brought you on today, not just for your amazing title or your—

Martha Parker: Extra-large paycheck.

Adam Pickens: Yeah. Extra-large paycheck, let’s say that. But because you have been at a number of different organizations that operate very differently. The topic of the day is safety leadership. In your experience, because you’ve been both a leader and a follower. I talk to you all the time about this and talk to you about co-workers and I don’t know the right term anymore. Your work workers. Workers? What’s the word?

Martha Parker: Employees.

Adam Pickens: Employees. That’s it. Good gracious golly. I seriously sometimes—I’m not 50 years old, but I’ve got—my mind. Goodness. Your employees in those organizations as your role changed. What were some of the things that you saw that helped you understand what a good leader needed to be in safety?

Dennis Johnson: That’s a great question. Over the course of my experience in industry, I’ve worked for people that were good managers but weren’t great leaders. I’ve also worked for people that were great leaders and maybe not such great managers. I think the ones that you remember the most are the ones that were inspirational. They also gave you tons of support. They didn’t require reporting in like most managers do, but it was more of a support given to you by their confidence in what you could do.

Adam Pickens: So I think that’s an important distinction between a leader and a manager. And correct me if I’m wrong, again—we’ve all worked at different organizations in different capacities, but my experience tells me a manager gets the daily task done, a manager worries about the details. The leader has the vision and the leader inspires people. Would you all agree with that, or how would you amend that?

Martha Parker: I think that’s pretty fair. Though the one thing I would add about maybe part of a manager that makes a good leader is the trust verify, which I think is what Dennis was saying, was you’ve got to have trust in your employees to go out and do their jobs without micromanaging them. But at the same time, you’ve got to have enough knowledge and skillset to go behind them every once in a while and go, is that right? Is that wrong? So that’s the only thing I might add to that.

Adam Pickens: I think so.

Dennis Johnson: The other thing I’d add is you also worked with people that may not have had a management role, but they were leaders themselves. They weren’t in a management role, but they were leaders and you saw that. And by the way they behaved, the way you interact with them.

I remember a guy I worked with. His name was Bob and he was a safety guy. And, oftentimes, if you drove by his house on weekends, he’d be out mowing the yard. Well, when I mowed the yard, I’d have on shorts. I’d wear safety glasses, but I wouldn’t wear much else. But Bob, every time you saw him had on—

Adam Pickens: Much other safety gear?

Dennis Johnson: Yeah. He had a—

Martha Parker: Please tell he had a shirt on.

Adam Pickens: Let’s not get into the details.

Dennis Johnson: Yeah, let’s not.

Adam Pickens: That’s not the safety gear.

Martha Parker: Okay, sorry. All right.

Dennis Johnson: Help me follow this trend. But Bob always had on long sleeve shirts, long pants, steel-toed shoes and safety glasses. And if he’s weed-eating he’s wearing a face shield. Because he truly believed in what he was practicing at work or what he was saying for others to do at work. But you could see others in our department that weren’t that committed to wearing the personal protective equipment.

So that’s a good example of how he as an individual demonstrated his leadership to others that were around him, just by practicing and instituting in his daily life things that we tried to practice on the job.

Adam Pickens: I think that’s important too. One word that you said there, it was all great, but one of the words that you said there was “commitment.” Every study that we ever read coming out about a successful leadership and successful safety programs, it’s got to have a commitment to it. And it’s hard to have a bottom-up driven safety program that’s entirely successful without the commitment of the management. But you’re shaking your head.

Martha Parker: I agree. Look at that uncomfortable silence.

Adam Pickens: Awesome. So outside of a management commitment, let’s just take Bob, for example. Bob is a safety professional. It’s also been my experience—and I’d like to hear your feedback on this—sometimes leadership can come from a non-managerial or a non-C-suite role. It’s—

Dennis Johnson: From an individual contributor.

Adam Pickens: Any individual contributor. So can you talk to that a little bit? Some of the impact that you’ve seen from, maybe, not a manager or supervisor or something that’s actually a leader in the safety field, but maybe a person—

Martha Parker: Somebody that took it in their heart, not on their job title.

Adam Pickens: Right. Yeah, exactly.

Dennis Johnson: Well, Bob was a great example of that. He was an individual contributor just like the rest of us at the time. And that was at a time when you spent a lot more time focusing on programmatic approaches to safety than trying to do it the way we do today. But Bob just had that sense of commitment. He had that sense that he practiced everything that he had learned as he went through school, as he had gone through their everyday work environment.

He was familiar how people were injured on the job and he took that and he internalized that and knew that he needed to be able to practice it at home what he was in a way preaching at work. And so it had to do more with them. I’d call it a personal commitment, a personal passion that he had for safety.

Martha Parker: Do you think the ability to intervene is important in a safety leader?

Dennis Johnson: It is because when you look at, in an organizational structure where you’ve got all different levels of employees, it’s necessary for those that are higher in that organization to be able to show their commitment to safety. And oftentimes, you can’t show that commitment unless there is some level of intervention where they see that something’s going wrong or they see that people aren’t being committed to what you’re trying to do and it requires their intervention. It requires their involvement to say how important something is.

Adam Pickens: One of the questions that we had talked about was leadership as a role versus leadership as a commitment. And you’ve worked at multiple different sized organizations. How is leadership different in a big multinational organization, at least in your experience, versus maybe a smaller one? Is it easier to lead? Is it easier to show commitment? How much of the culture of a big organization is, it’s like a freight train, it’s just moving along and it’s hard to change versus really being able to make a personal impact at a smaller organization?

Martha Parker: And what is your preference based on your experience? Do you prefer having a major impact pretty quickly in a smaller organization, even if that smaller organization is within a big multinational corporation versus having a role or being a leader that was of a very large group where you were driven on the train instead of being able to affect it?

Dennis Johnson: That’s a great question. To me—and you could probably find articles written on the traits of leaders, safety leaders, and other types of leaders—what I would say to that is that it’s an individual trait. It’s a passion that they have that they’re able to demonstrate in their day-to-day job. If you work for a small company that, whether they’re producing widgets or they’re producing—

Martha Parker: See. It’s a widget.

Adam Pickens: It’s a widget.

Martha Parker: Dennis knows that.

Adam Pickens: Thank you. Thank you.

Dennis Johnson: You’re welcome.

Adam Pickens: We’ve had this discussion with students and students don’t know what widgets are.

Martha Parker: Thanks.

Adam Pickens: So thank you for that.

Dennis Johnson: A highly technical term.

Adam Pickens: Yeah, I appreciate that.

Dennis Johnson: But when you work in a small organization, it may have more pressures on them to perform, pressures on them to sell their product. Individuals in the organization may not have the space to be able to develop their internal traits to be a leader. Some it comes very natural, but I think there’s others that they actually have to spend a lot of time and effort to explore their leadership capability.

I think there’s some, though, like managers. There are some that are extremely great managers because they’re able to perform their role as a manager very well, but it’s hard for them to share what their vision is for that team. So is it harder in a smaller company over larger? To me, it’s really about the people that you’re working with. It’s the people that migrate or are hired by those companies that somewhat take on a personality similar to that company.

And so I’ve worked with small companies, yes, that had great leaders and I’ve also worked for larger companies that had great leaders. The advantage with the larger company is that there may be a little bit, I don’t want to say freedom, but there may be a little bit more space in someone’s day-to-day activity or in the team that they’re working with to be able to develop their leadership trait.

Martha Parker: And especially in those really large organizations, they have management or leadership training courses and classes and paths that, as you move up into an organization, they will help you develop those skills and develop the ability to ignite the passion for being a leader. Whereas those opportunities may not exist for leaders or managers in a smaller type organization.

Adam Pickens: Well, I think that’s where you need to seek it out yourself. As I’m sitting across from you all, you all are very different and it’s shocking. I know. It’s a revelation to both you all.

Dennis Johnson: What’s different?

Adam Pickens: We can talk about that later. That can be an offline discussion. I don’t know if you all ever recognize it. But you all are very different. And I think one of the things is you all have both been leaders, but your leadership traits are very different and you’ve cultivated them in probably very different ways. So I would be very interested to hear from both of you all. You’ve turned from co-host into participant, co-participant.

Martha Parker: Interviewee.

Adam Pickens: Yeah. So, Dennis, I’d like to start with you. So you, personally—everybody’s got their own traits and you can take the Myers-Briggs and you can evaluate your own self. I’ve taken it. I’m a INTJ architect. I don’t know what that means, but that’s what I am.

Dennis Johnson: That’s your personality trait.

Adam Pickens: And so you cultivate your leadership based on your personality traits as much as you possibly can because that helps you know what your strengths are. All of that aside, for you personally, you’re a bit more reserved. For somebody who might be similar to you, so just your personal experience, as somebody who might be a little more reserved, how did you recognize the traits that you needed to develop to become a good leader? Because I know a bit of your work background.

You moved up both from your technical acumen, but you moved up in leadership roles as well. So how did you go about identifying? What were some of the strengths that you really wanted to cultivate? Martha, you can be thinking about this while Dennis is going.

Dennis Johnson: It’s a good thing that you cut this part out.

Adam Pickens: No, we leave it all in.

Dennis Johnson: Okay.

Adam Pickens: Yeah. We go pretty uncut on Work Factors. See, name drop right there again. Boom.

Martha Parker: Texas A&M Health Talk.

Dennis Johnson: I think as you gain experience, as you work with different people on your team, as you develop the experience you need to be able to perform in your career, I think you see how others behave, how they perform in their daily work life. And I think you start to emulate what you’re seeing in others that you have identified as someone you want to be like.

So it’s not something like, oh, I think I’ll be a leader tomorrow and I’m going to go take a class. It’s something, by working with people and getting familiar with them and seeing how they are able to lead or describe a vision or get people behind them, and you try to start emulating that. You also see those examples that you sit back—and I’ve worked with people who are pretty hard nose, pretty opinionated.

Martha Parker: And that’s not you?

Dennis Johnson: To a different degree. Opinionated in a way that no matter what you did, it was wrong or no matter how you did it, it wasn’t the way they wanted it done. And those people, you learn, you saw real quick that they were in a little box and you didn’t want to be like that. So to me, it was more of seeing how others conducted themselves, seeing how others were able to build relationships with others. And it was like, I want to be like that.

Adam Pickens: It’s funny that you bring that up because my immediate leader is Mark Benden and he’s my department chair. I’m sure Mark will be on a podcast eventually, but he’s in high demand for many podcasts apparently. One of the things I’ve identified in Mark is he genuinely cares about everybody that he’s around. And it’s harder for me to do that, but I see the value in it. So I’m trying to be more caring.

Martha Parker: The kinder, gentle Adam.

Adam Pickens: Yeah, let’s go with that. The kinder, gentler Adam. God bless him. Mark will know everything about every student by the time they graduate. And I can mostly tell you their names. It’s not that I don’t care about them, but that quality of investing in the people around you is something that I’ve identified that is exceedingly valuable for me as a faculty member. And I’m working to try to better emulate that. I would hope that the students today would say they see me investing in them more than the students did five years ago.

Dennis Johnson: Well, I agree. One thing I’d say is that you would never be accused of not caring about people. You just may not show it as visibly as others.

Adam Pickens: Well, okay.

Martha Parker: A hundred percent. That is absolutely true.

Adam Pickens: That’s probably true.

Dennis Johnson: And as you said—

Martha Parker: You hold your cards real close.

Adam Pickens: Real close to the vest. That’s right.

Dennis Johnson: It doesn’t mean that you don’t care, it just means that you are maybe a little bit more incremental in how you react to people.

Adam Pickens: Yes, yes. I’m a bit more measured.

Martha Parker: And Dennis, you were the same way.

Adam Pickens: Yes, absolutely.

Martha Parker: I know it was shocking. We’re very different that way, but you are kind and gentle as well. But that is not how you come across at all, at the very beginning.

Dennis Johnson: Oh, I know. But that’s because I’m shy.

Adam Pickens: Yes.

Martha Parker: And then you get to know you and you’re like, “Oh, he’s so great.”

Dennis Johnson: Edit. Edit.

Adam Pickens: So, Martha, same question to you.

Martha Parker: So I got it ready.

Adam Pickens: Hit it.

Martha Parker: I believe that anybody can be a leader if they want to. And I think that’s where the passion comes in that you talked about, Dennis. I was thrown into a leadership role pretty early on in my career and I understood innately, I think, in the value of relationships. And so I can find something in common with anybody and that puts us on an even keel, and that makes what I did as an ergonomist easier for people to stomach.

Sometimes when I would come in and I look like I was evaluating them and judging them and figuring out how to make it easier and better and faster and more comfortable. And it was difficult sometimes when people thought that I was the, quote, expert. But if I had to establish the relationship with that person, it made it so much easier on both of our parts. Because it’s easy to help somebody that you care about and it’s easy to help somebody that you have a relationship with. It’s difficult if you go in there and try to just vomit stuff on them and then, it’s like, what? I don’t understand and you’re not helping me. So I know that that’s a strength of mine is that relationship building. And so I do take time. I can’t say I’m as good as Dr. Benden. But I do take time to get to know people.

Adam Pickens: Mark, if you listen to this, we’re singing your praises. So remember that when it comes to annual evals.

Martha Parker: That’s right. But I know my weaknesses. I also have the ability to run over people. Because I’m a decision-maker. I want to get things done and I want to get it done quickly and I don’t need you lollygagging around. We’re just going to get this done. And I’ve really had to work over the years at being a better listener. And that has helped me develop better relationships with people so that I don’t run over and go so fast and leave everybody in the dirt.

Adam Pickens: I always tell my son, we have two ears and one mouth. So we should listen more than we talk.

Martha Parker: That is correct. My father told me the same thing.

Adam Pickens: Some of us have a hard time with it and some of us—

Martha Parker: You should think before you speak. I’m however many years old and I’m still learning that every day.

Adam Pickens: It’s okay. It’s the identified area of opportunity.

Martha Parker: It is.

Adam Pickens: So I think one of the things that we’d like to finish up on here is, we’ve talked about traits and we talked about all that stuff and how to be a leader in different roles. Talk a little bit about the identification of your own weaknesses. Because I think, for most people, it’s uncomfortable to recognize what you are deficient in. And sometimes I’ve had great leaders that I’ve been associated with that lead out of weakness.

They’re able to surround themselves with people who are really good at the areas that they are deficient in. And I don’t know if that’s been you all’s experience, but it has been mine from time to time. Some people lead out front only in their strengths, but I think the recognition of weakness is also a key in being a good leader because I think any leader at any field isn’t going to be good at everything.

Well, it is such a great question, I’ve literally got everybody around me stunned. Or were you trying to say, where’s the question in that?

Dennis Johnson: I was thinking about really where was that question to get lost in it?

Adam Pickens: So I forget who my guest is today. Okay. Dennis, let me rephrase this as a question. In thinking about identification of your weaknesses as a leader, how important is it to be able to know where you need help?

Martha Parker: That’s a very good question.

Adam Pickens: Thank you. Thank you.

Dennis Johnson: Well, I can think of the team that I work with now. We all probably—

Adam Pickens: This is going to hit a little close to home.

Martha Parker: Yeah. I’m like—

Dennis Johnson: We all work off each other. Like you said some have strengths that others don’t. I am slow to get—

Adam Pickens: Slow to get the words out?

Dennis Johnson: Yeah. I may take more time in assessing the situation before I respond, but that’s just the way I am. But that doesn’t mean that others around me may not be responding quicker or, say, if we’re trying to deal with an issue then a time for me to assess that may help me to overcome whatever the weakness I may have in responding quickly. So what I’m trying to say is that we benefit by working around those that have other types of skills and traits and behaviors to help—

Martha Parker: A little diversity?

Dennis Johnson: A little diversity to help you see how maybe you need to do something different.

Adam Pickens: Well, and it’s funny that you bring up our team. We are very diverse in our diversity of thought and diversity of capacity. I would say I’m very much more like you in it takes me a long time to sit there and in a meeting digest the information that’s being presented to me to be able to formulate what I feel is an appropriate, accurate response. But we sit in meetings all the time and people will just rapid-fire off their thoughts and some of them—

Martha Parker: Why do you keep looking at me?

Adam Pickens: I’m just saying it’s differences in people and it’s not just you. Oh wait, I did say it was you.

Martha Parker: You did. It’s okay. I’m clear.

Adam Pickens: So I think that identification of the fact that you and I may be, and it’s not a weakness, it’s just a difference.

Martha Parker: Just different.

Dennis Johnson: It’s a different style.

Adam Pickens: It’s different style, different communication style, different thought process. Just because I’m not saying something, it doesn’t mean I’m not actively trying to formulate what I feel is a good response. It just may take me a little bit longer.

Martha Parker: So I would give us a little visual on that. Like you’re driving a go-kart.

Adam Pickens: I love go-karts.

Martha Parker: I know.

Adam Pickens: I had a go-kart as a kid.

Martha Parker: So you’re in a go-kart and you’re at a go-kart track. And it has the bumpers on the side, the metal bumpers. I am the go-kart driver that just goes, like, hit the gas. And you hit the bumper and you bounce off and you go this way and you bounce off and you go this way. You guys are like, I’m going to stay in the middle of the lane and I’m just going to be real measured about the way I do things. We’re both going to finish. We’re both going to get there. I’m just going to be a little more jarred.

Dennis Johnson: We’re going to pass you when you run into the curve.

Adam Pickens: That’s right.

Martha Parker: When I cut it too short.

Adam Pickens: I think that’s a great analogy because it’s less about recognition of self and more about recognition of your teammates and who you’re working with. I think a good leader needs to recognize the different components that they have on their team. Let’s just keep going back to Mark.

Martha Parker: And he’s not even here.

Adam Pickens: And he’s not even here, but that doesn’t matter. I think he’s probably—

Martha Parker: No bonus for Adam.

Adam Pickens: I think he’s probably very keenly aware of the different personality traits on Ergo Center staff or faculty in the department and things like that. And sometimes he might need to talk to somebody not in a faculty meeting because maybe that person’s not going to respond well.

Dennis Johnson: But you always have your go-to people, right?

Adam Pickens: Right.

Dennis Johnson: You may go to some people because they have a lot more technical background in a subject. You may go to others because you may like the ideas they generate off a small amount of information. So you have go-to people. The key is that you’re surrounded with people that can help you accomplish what your overall mission is.

Adam Pickens: And I think that’s a great quality of a leader, is to be able to surround—

Martha Parker: Communicate that.

Adam Pickens: Yeah, communicate the vision. Surround yourself with people who can accomplish that vision through the different strings that they have.

Martha Parker: That’s right.

Dennis Johnson: And the good leaders are not going to be afraid of those that they have around them that they may displace them. They’re going to work jointly with them to help further what their mission is.

Martha Parker: A rising tide.

Adam Pickens: That’s right.

Martha Parker: Raises all the ships.

Adam Pickens: That’s right. Absolutely. I’ve said that recently in a meeting, rising tide raises all ships. We are Texas A&M, we want to be great at everything.

Martha Parker: Everything.

Adam Pickens: That’s right.

Martha Parker: So just as a little bit of background for Mr. Johnson. He did not go to Texas A&M. Where did you go to get your bachelor’s degree?

Dennis Johnson: In a small school in Western Oklahoma called Southwestern Oklahoma State.

Martha Parker: And then where did you continue your education?

Dennis Johnson: I went to the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center for my master’s in public health many years ago. At that time, there were only 11 schools of public health and I was never a Boomer Sooner, having been raised in Oklahoma. I favored a different school that existed in the state.

Martha Parker: The brighter shade of orange?

Dennis Johnson: Mm-hmm. And I often said, I went to the University of Oklahoma—you do cut this out—more because there was an available school than because I wanted to go to the University of Oklahoma.

Martha Parker: Available school.

Dennis Johnson: There was an available school.

Adam Pickens: I can totally appreciate that. I’m fightin’ Texas Aggie class of ‘99. I’ve got two degrees from A&M, but I got my doctorate at Texas Tech. At my wedding, at the wedding reception, a man walked up to me and he said, “Hi. I’m a Red Raider.” He’s like, “I hear you go to Texas Tech.” And he wanted to talk to me about being a Red Raider. And he’s like, “Are you a Red Raider?”

I loved going to Texas Tech. I loved my experience on the South Plains, but I’m not a Red Raider because of it. And I said, “No, no, no. I’m an Aggie. I’m fightin’ Texas Aggie class of ’99,” and the photographer was watching us. I’ve got a picture in my wedding album of the moment I crushed that man’s spirit because that was, like, the one thing that we had in common. And this photographer snapped it right at that moment where you saw him wilt a little bit. And my wife teases me about that all the time. You got a great education at the University of Oklahoma.

Dennis Johnson: I did. And I enjoyed it.

Adam Pickens: I got a great education at Texas Tech and I enjoyed my time there.

Martha Parker: But now you’re giving back to the students at Texas A&M University and I will say—even though I know that we all bleed maroon because you slice us open and it’s kind of that color—but you really do embody the spirit of being an Aggie even though you’re not technically one. It’s a pleasure to work with you.

Dennis Johnson: Thank you. It’s been a great experience having come to Texas A&M about 10 or 12 years ago to recruit our first students, having not any knowledge about what A&M was. My youngest son came here and I got to learn more about what the A&M is about and it’s been great working here. It catches you up in what goes on here at the university. And it’s a great place.

Adam Pickens: I would definitely say, thinking about strengths and weaknesses, as far as the strength, core values, definitely Dennis embody selfless service. He’s executive in residence and he does all the things with all the different companies, but he’s also teaching a class and he also works with Ergo Center and he works on curriculum stuff. Definitely selfless service.

Martha Parker: And students are always in his office. Can you write me this letter of recommendation? Can you read my resume? Can you make sure I’m doing this right? And you’re incredibly responsive and they are very appreciative.

Adam Pickens: Dennis, how uncomfortable is this making you?

Dennis Johnson: Pretty uncomfortable.

Adam Pickens: There it is. All right. On that note, I think we’re going to end. I think we’ve got some good topics for the day and thank you, everybody, for listening. We will see you on the next episode. Dennis, thank you for participating.

Dennis Johnson: Thanks for having me here.

Adam Pickens: All right, everybody, we’ll see you next time.

Martha Parker: Thank you all.